Monday 2 August 2021


My final day of a short three day North Wales adventure.  Important I get the full six ticks in today.  I landed in Colwyn Bay, another GBG friendly town on that Chester-Llandudno train route.

Colwyn, we have a problem.  Almost zero phone signal.  Google Maps not loading.  Not a good start when you're planning a walk to a GBG pub in a hilly obscure village.

I walk in the direction I think it is.  One bar appears.  On my phone I mean.  That'll have to do.  The road junction has a sign for the pub!  Even though it is three miles away.  Hurrah! 

I climb away from the Bay, and what a climb it is.  My grey leather jacket which I once convinced work colleagues was made from an elephant hide has to come off, and is scrunched into a dark recess of my #BRAPA branded bag.

It is warm, muggy, and a bit damp.  Two thirds of the way up, to much relief, it levels out.  But I have an army of flies following me, buzzing around my sweaty head.  They will not leave me alone.   I'm imagining walking into the pub .... "Errrm, table for 16 please ..... sorry, they aren't very good at social distancing". 

I pull a giant piece of bracken from the side of the road, and bat them away, hitting myself in the face in the process.  I hope no locals are watching.   The pub jumps out from around the corner as soon as I enter the village, a bit like your ole' Uncle Pete the Perv.  


Ah, that looks better

It takes me a good 15 minutes to fully cool down, a pint would help but the staff are rather ponderous, surprising for a place that seemingly does a roaring trade for the elderly dining crew, the So Solid Crew of North Wales.   BRAP BRAP!  White Lion, Llanelian-yn-Rhos  (1863 / 3292) is actually a very atmospheric old pub if you get sat in the right area.  Facing the bar in a gorgeous leather armchair, facing the ancient fireplace (luckily the fire isn't lit) is probably the prime position.  I've done well.  My pint of 'Welsh Pride' when it does arrive is cooling and gorgeous, though I'd probably have downed a Fosters at this moment in time!  Getting the bill is even more of a struggle, but at least we end on a high, when on the way out, I'm introduced to sunbathing pub cat Mr Noel.

Mr Noel, could do with taking his fur coat off in this!

I had wondered if there was a #PubCat when I saw this sign

Col in his element, and for once, the random pile of logs look functional

View to the bar

What a difference going down the hill makes.  I'm back at the bottom in no time, ready to tackle my three pubs listed under Colwyn Bay.  But no so fast ..... it seems the only pub of the three open at the moment is up the very next left turn along the Old Highway, and up an equally steep hill.  There was no cut through from Llanelian that I could see with my limited signal.

As I climb once more, Red Kite (?) screech above like they are forewarning me of pub chains to come.  There are some stunning views over the Bay, and of a sort of woodland/forested area.  

Well you can imagine, by the time I reached the pub, my legs are like lumps of lead, my face is bright red and sweat gets in my eyes like that little known Bryan Ferry b-side.  I need a pint!

There's a certain familiarity about Pen-y-Bryn, Colwyn Bay (1864 / 3293) what with the sweeping entrance, kind man behind computer layout of pub tables greeting me, fasciation with book cases, posh oldies having amazing smelling scran, pretty waitresses buzzing around like Llanelian flies, a formal run through of the beers on offer, and the 'amusing' Victorian prints on the wall.  You guessed it yet?  Yes, Brunning and Price!  Not just Brunning.  Not just Price.  But Brunning & Price.  From East Surrey to North Wales, you can always pick a B&P.  I actually order a beer which isn't even available, Purple Moose Elderflower.  I've made it up.  That confuses him.  Another Purple Moose is drinking well (spectacular lacings = amazing quality) , though could've done with something a bit more citrussy in retrospect.  What are these dining middle agers on about?  Solar Powered Tractors?  Steamboats?  Hot Air Balloons?  Calcutta Trains?    Either I'm hallucinating, or they think this is the Reform Club and they are organising some modern day Phileas Fogg 80 Days Around the World adventure.  


There are buses down the hill, but being an impatient bugger, I'm not waiting 25 minutes so I march back down on foot.  Knees are buggered, as are my hips.  In any case, I'm still waiting on the mid/late afternoon micros to open.  

I have a wee in Wetherspoons (should really have stayed for a half in case it ever gets in the GBG), and join a very motley looking bus crew destined for nearby Old Colwyn, which has two ticks that open slightly earlier than my remaining Colwyn duo.  Phew!  

A chaotic 50/50 split of Colwyn's most hardened old bastards versus the local schoolkids makes for an interesting bus ride.  I'm one of the first to 'alight' if that is still a phrase, nearly falling headfirst down the stairs of the double decker. 

Phone signal still dodgy so I actually have to use my eyes to look for the first pub, how novel!

What a shitter the Red Lion, Old Colwyn (1865 / 3294) was to get in.  No wonder it had zero customers!  More on that later.  The door you see above is the back one I'd been directed to from the street, but it is stuck.  When I look closely, there's this yellow security device you have to push down with your foot to release it and get in!  Well not in all my years of Covid ticking have I seen one of these contraptions.  The barman greets me with that kind of "whatever I'm expecting you to say, I'm not expecting you to ask for a pint" expression.  So when I ask for a pint of Pedi, he puffs out his cheeks and a small smile appears.  Who did he think I was?  The tax inspector?  The grease filter guy?   It is an absolutely delicious pub, as aesthetically pleasing as any during my two week holiday.  A small low down TV is showing the tennis, two eastern european lassies are grunting.  It is quite a depressing atmosphere I cannot quite explain, for I've been in fabulous empty pubs many a time and been quite content.  Finally an old couple appear , but they choose to sit outside.  Another bloke enters with a flourish.  He just wants to borrow the barman's lighter.  And have a wee.  He asks me to watch his bag.  Only person likely to steal it is me.  Oh well, at least someone spoke!

Our next pub is just a few yards down the street, but they feel world's apart ......

This modern micro is absolutely bouncing!  Friendly lined blotchy bulbous nosed faces smile as I enter, many even say hi.  I fight my way through to the bar to view the ales.  Crafty Fox, Old Colwyn (1866 / 3295).  The guv'nor seems a sound chap, but I find him quite hard to read.  Firstly, he spies my Tim Taylor Landlord sweatshirt.  "Oh dear!" he comments.  Does he mean he doesn't approve, or it isn't a beer he stocks and he's worried I'll be sad?  I cannot tell.  I tell him about the emptiness of the Red Lion compared with here and express my surprise.  "Oh shame!" he says.  Is he genuinely sad such a lovely pub is so empty, or being sarcastic cos of course, it is his pub with all the customers?  Or a bit of both?  Again, I can't tell.  He apologises for having to put me in the side room due to the lack of space, along with a snotty wheezing coughing lady (bet I get pinged next day!) and a restless bloke who keeps picking up all the glass bottles in the window and inspecting them. Neither look up for a chat!  To be fair to mine host, he keeps coming through to further apologise and let's us know when space in the main bar in case we wanna move through.  I tell Glass Bottle he can go first, he seems more restless.  I burst into the loo on a bloke who hasn't locked it.  Curse of the micropub single bog.  Hate.  We have a little laugh and brief chat.  Really lovely folk in here.  Then I squirt some cheap pub deodorant on me.  After the morning's walking, I need it.   My beer is dirt cheap too, happy hour?  But not very well kept, I've gone for the standard bitter but it is tired.  I pick up a moth eaten newspaper and read about Welsh football until my bus back into Colwyn Bay is due.

Bit o' Tabu on for the laydeez

Alright Mr Glass Bottle, settle down

Col gets into the football

Me n GB anti-socially 'enjoy' our pints

"I'll drink on my own, I'll drink on my oooowwwwnnn, I'm bloody BRAPA, I'll drink on my own"

Bus back into Colwyn Bay for the final two pubs of the evening, one of which is now open and has sprung into life.  Sort of.  

That triangle had me wondering if they sold Bass Stout, if that is a thing, but the reality was far less exciting in Black Cloak Taproom, Colwyn Bay (1867 / 3296).  A very beer forward place, with their own merchandise for sale on the wall, I'm presented with a laminated menu.  Ordering the only cask beer I can see (which isn't from Black Cloak itself) perhaps killed any conversation, because a couple I spoke to in the next pub told me they'd been here earlier, are very interested in craft beer and got a good chat going with the lady serving.  For me, she just goes back behind her perspex screen behind the bar, and we don't speak again til I say bye and thank her for the pint!  And I'm the only customer.  And it isn't a very interesting building, being a brand new micro n all.  So you see my problem!  I do like Black Cloak as a concept, reminded me of my idea about 10 years back for a Jack the Ripper themed brewery.  But as the kids say, that could be 'problematic' with more 'red flags' and 'calling out' in 2021 if you're gonna go serving beers about Annie Chapman, Polly Nicholls and the like.  Anyway, before I totally lose my marbles, I think it is time to get to my final pub don't you?  

There we go, Eryrys, Denbighshire Be Strong!  And what a hop bomb it was!

Competing with Pen-y-Bryn for most books in a Colwyn Bay pub

Col says he felt a bit freaked out by this lad

I suppose it tied in quite nicely, that the final pub of the day was the one closest to Colwyn Bay station where I started my journey this morning, though it felt like about 5 days ago, and am sure it does to you if you've been brave enough to read this whole thing.  

I had high hopes though, for they'd 'liked' a couple of my Tweets yesterday so might they recognise me (well, Colin!), thus giving way to a much more sociable pub experience?  That was the expectation..... 

And my prayers were answered, with bells on, at Bay Hop, Colwyn Bay (1868 / 3297) the pub that my afternoon had really been crying out for.  After negotiating the tricky red rope and sign in process, the bloke with the pink stabilo style shirt and accent which sounded fairly close to me (Middlesbrough it turned out!) recognised me (well, probably Col) and greeted us warmly.  I'm even allowed to sit at a reserved table for 15 minutes until some party pooper arrives.  In an Albion Ale House vibe, I'm soon explaining BRAPA across the room, until PP arrives, but the fun doesn't stop there, the lovely couple from Abergele outside are just as interested by the concept of Good Beer Guide ticking, the stout is superb, Possible Terry Jones on pint glass helps, and Leanne even recommends me a Chester pre-emptive.  What a fabulous end to a difficult day.  Bay Hop, a pub I'd much recommend which really encapsulates the unswerving friendliness that spreads across the delightful bay of Colwyn. 

The rope of doom

Strategic finger

Great pint

Note the dog with same top of head as Colin, my fave photo of the week

Couple of dudes, maybe malnourished, maybe well fed

The rowdy excitable bunch sponsored by Amazulu

My Abergele chums peruse the GBG, Col is out on his arse

Back in Chester, I knew one my GBG ticks the Cavern of the Curious Incidental Gnome in the Night was not open til 19th July, and there were a few questions over whether Big Hand Alehouse was open too, so I took Leanne's suggestion seriously and headed to Beer Heroes. 

That customer looks intimidatingly 'craft' 

No cask meant it probably isn't the best pre-emptive strike ever, but I like the staff.  They are doing what looks suspiciously like 'last orders' work (scraping tables, wiping surfaces, rattling doors), so I desperately plead for a pint and they are all chillaxed like "no worries bro dude, what ya after hun?" and I suddenly feel out of my depth, choose a 'no.4' in a panicked state and ask the barmaid if that is a solid choice, to which she reassures me, yes, this is a beer which other people in the world have drunk before me.  It is proper nice!  Makes you question all this cask nonsense.   Joking obvs, sometimes.   The place has all these atmospheric tubey cellars, a bit like a modern Lendal Cellars before Jamie Oliver fucked it for every York pub lover circa 2010.  Wind turbines (fans) added a late perilous blowie feel (so to speak), and blew into the faces of the cooler beards.  A man rang his Dad, serious retro vibes, and in moaning about why England wouldn't beat Italy on Sunday (the only person I heard with this view), says "you only have to look at Pride Park in Derby" as the reason for their inevitable downfall.  It made a lot of sense at the time.  Nice place, now please put cask on so it can get into the GBG!

So that was nice.  And my text has gone bold for no reason.  Back to my shitty Travelodge, the worst I've ever stayed in.  Chester Central if you want to avoid.  Awful.  Dreadful.  Train back to York in morning, one day rest before some demanding people wanted me in Halifax.

For tales of that, join me tomorrow at the slightly later time of 10:30pm-11pm, for more BRAPA tales and ales.



  1. "Knees are buggered, as are my hips" - you're over the hill, mate. That Eddie Foghorn guy is going to overtake you on the last corner, he's the future now.

  2. I didn't MEAN to call him Foghorn, it was predictive text sorry Eddie.